Opposition leader Kem Sokha faces six additional months in detention

  • Cambodian opposition party deputy leader Kem Sokha (R) raises his fist during his speech at the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) headquarters in Phnom Penh on September 9, 2016. Kem Sokha appeals in the public for the first speech to supporters after he detained himself for a few months in the CNRP headquarters. Phnom Penh municipal court start trial The acting head of Cambodia’s opposition party, Kem Sokha related to sex scandal. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN SOTHY

Jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha is unlikely to face trial in the foreseeable future after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided on Monday (Mar 5) to extend his pre-trial detention for another six months, according to The Phnom Penh Online.

Sokha’s lawyer Meng Sopheary confirmed that investigating judge Ky Rithy extended the detention of the former president of the Cambodia National Rescu Party (CNRP), claiming he needed more time to complete the investigation into Sokha’s treason charges.

She said that the defence continued unsuccessfully to seek Sokha’s release on bail, citing his poor health.

Sokha was arrested in a midnight raid on September 3 and provisionally charged with treason.  His party was eventually dissolved in November on similar grounds by the Supreme Court for allegedly plotting a purported revolution.

The prospect of any pardon for Sokha and other targeted CNRP officials appeared bleak with Prime Minister Hun Sen warning in his speech he would not extend another olive branch to the former opposition leader.

Political commentator Lao Mong said there was little chance that Hun Sen would release Sokha ahead of July elections because it would undo the prime minister’s campaign to subdue opposition supporters and get rid of the CNRP.